As we hurtle about one-quarter into the season, interleague play now looms. I have come to really enjoy these games, when, for example Boston comes to San Francisco, as they did last year, matching Jon Lester to Tim Lincecum.
This means DH time for National League teams, so if you are scrounging for at-bats in any format but AL only, this is a good week to try and take advantage.
In the interim, we can indeed look at some players who are either on the major league roster that can similarly help you, and first this time is a player I suspect will be brought up shortly in the White Sox, Dayan Viciedo. Viciedo, a 22-year old Cuban refugee, had 106 U.S. Cellular at-bats last year, hitting a fine .308-5-13, and would have likely made the Pale Hose Opening Day roster had he not fractured a thumb early in the spring. With Brent Morel struggling at the plate, and Mark Teahan suffering from a hip flexor, Viciedo, hitting .314-5-29 at Triple-A Charlotte, is the likely suspect. Note Viciedo qualifies at third, but likely first and outfield as well depending upon your rules.
Seattle is biting the youth bullet, having demoted Ryan Langerhans and Milton Bradley earlier in the week, recalling Carlos Peguero and Mike Wilson. We noted Peguaro a few weeks back, but Wilson now makes a fairly attractive possibility, especially in that deep AL only setup. Selected in the second round of the 2001 draft, the now 27-year-old has minor league totals of .264-133-499 over a decade, including .276-27-84 at Double-A (West Tennessee) and .278-25-78 last year split between Double-A and Triple-A Tacoma. Wilson has decent speed with 67 steals, but is a bit of a free swinger (343 walks to 815 strikeouts). Peguaro does make a more attractive selection, though.
The Mets, trying to compensate for the injury loss to Ike Davis, brought up the young, power-hitting Fernando Martinez, whom Davis passed in the New York depth chart last year. At just 22, Martinez, a Dominican, has pretty good power with .272-45-172 totals, along with 80 doubles over 368 minor league games. Martinez also strikes out a lot, with 103 walks to 308 whiffs in the minors, and worse, 25 walks to 79 whiffs as a major leaguer: good for a .178 average and .252 OBP. Martinez is tempting, and could supply a little pop, but probably, on these Mets, you are better off ignoring him unless there are so many holes on your bench that you have to take chances.
There is a new closer in Dodgertown, and his name is Vicente Padilla. And, as erratic as Padilla can be, this might not be a bad role for the 33-year old, who showed some excellent control over the past two seasons, with a WHIP of 1.22 as a Dodger in 2009, and last year 1.08, when Padilla struck out 84 over 95 innings. He has three conversions so far this season over nine games, and with Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo both damaged, Padilla has seized the opportunity. As long as he continues to convert, he will hold the job.
With Geovany Soto injured, Chicago advanced Dominican backstop Welington Castillo to help behind the dish. Drafted as an 18-year old, Castillo has climbed the Cubs ladder with .259-42-190 totals over six minor league seasons. Castillo is another one of those catchers who can learn to call a game, but not necessarily exhibit the same plate discipline when hitting, with just 88 walks to 313 strikeouts, good for a .315 OBP. Castillo did smack .300-1-5 over seven games at Wrigley last year, but for now, Castillo will likely not get enough work to merit much consideration save in the deepest of formats.
I have been a Vin Mazzaro fan for a few years, though I also struggled watching the right hander try to crack the Athletics rotation, so when he was swapped as part of the David DeJesus deal over the off-season. And, though the Royals have so many young prospects, this was a good fit for the 24-year-old pitcher. A third-round pick of Oakland in 2005, Mazzaro has pitched pretty well at Triple-A the parts of the past four seasons, going 9-6, 3.82 with 136 strikeouts over 153 innings, with 156 hits to 56 walks. Mazzaro struggled over his first start, and could be up and down with his Kansas City mates, but he can be a decent No. 4 starter in AL formats. It is hard to jump on his bandwagon right now, but with full schedules ahead around the majors, track Mazzaro.
Looking at a couple of hitters who have had hot sticks of late, if you are in a mixed format, and if for some reason longtime prospect Cameron Maybin, is lurking in your free agent pool, snatch him up now. The now 24-year-old Padre has had a nice week with a pair of dingers on Friday, leading his hot team of late with season totals of .280-5-13 with six swipes. Maybin has a pretty good line, with 17 walks to 36 whiffs over 161at-bats, much better than the 24 walks to 92 strikeouts he culled last year over 322 at-bats. Looks like he is finally realizing the promise that made the outfielder the No. 1 pick of the Tigers in 2005 (No. 10 overall).
Finally, Laynce Nix is one of those guys who whet our statistic appetites years ago, but never really delivered. He did post a nice set of bench numbers last year (.291-4-18) over 165 at-bats with the Reds. Now, as a National, Nix is getting regular playing time thanks to his .313-5-15 totals over 31 games and 80 at-bats. Nix' chance to grab the spotlight came at the expense of Michael Morse, and as long as he keeps hitting, Nix will keep playing, and now is a nice play in NL and mixed formats.